Leading up to Ethereum’s annual conference, Devcon3, in Cancun, Mexico, several attendees arrived days ahead to settle in and soak in the scenery. A few of them have described various violent encounters with locals and more specifically local authorities. One developer and entrepreneur, Julien Bouteloup, in particular, describes this incident in detail after being pulled over outside the airport for going 91km/h in a 90km/h speed zone.
In his blog, Bouteloup describes the incident:
“I was really shocked. Firstly, because the speed limit was 90km/h and I was going to be fined for 91km/h. Secondly, according to Waze on my phone, I was driving at 81km/h (yes, like a grandpa) and all the cars on the left were passing me. So it didn’t make any sense. I told the cops that it was impossible as my Waze was showing 81km/h and all cars were passing me. But he asked me for my driving license and told me that they were going to confiscate it and I will need to go to the federal police station on Monday, which meant that I had to leave the car there. I felt a brief moment of panic and then he asked me if I had money to pay the fine immediately because he explained to me that if I was paying the fine on Monday at the federal police station would be really expensive. “You can leave now if you give me 5000 pesos ($260 US dollars)”.”
“I told him that I had only 500 pesos. He started arguing while showing me his hand resting on his gun and said that was not possible and I would need to go to the federal station on Monday. Meanwhile, they stopped another car which was a big 4×4 truck. It was a white man, probably European or American judging by his style. They asked him to get out of the car and put his hands on the car. I was starting to get a little bit scared. I took my 500 pesos and asked him if I could leave right after giving him the money. It looked like they were more focused on the other guy, or I should say the big fish! It was a chance for me but I was a little bit worried about the other guy.”
Since posting the blog post after the shakedown, Bouteloup has been getting similar reports from other event attendees and his main objective was to warn those heading into Cancun about such events.
He also recollects on obtaining his rental car and in the process of looking for the car, the attendant made it a clear point on three occasions to state that the rear license plate was present and also asked him a number of times where he was headed. After his run-in with the authorities, he noticed that all the foreigners/tourists rental cars did not have rear license plates, which with further digging is a 3000 peso fine if the car is returned without it. Bouteloup’s conspiracy is that locals are tied in with these rental companies looking to make a profit and the locals get a share of the 3000 fine.
The Festy team from Ireland also described their incidents with locals via a blog post as well. They described checking into their hotel and the staff required a scan of their credit card, in which they describe a simple millisecond scan could completely deplete all the funds from your bank account. Another incident they described was when they first arrived and tried to get an Uber. Like many airports in the US, taxi drivers and Uber/Lyft drivers have continuous tension. The Festy team was instructed by their Uber driver to meet them at a specific location outside of the taxi bay and to watch out for being “followed.” As they were spotted by two taxis drivers claiming to be airport security, it got a little hectic from there.
The attendees describe the incident here:
“I kept my poker face as taxi’s hailed and shouted at my colleague and I until we noticed that we were followed by two taxi driver’s claiming to be airport security. As we tried to lose them they understood we were looking for an Uber driver. In a fit of rage, the taxi driver shouted at my female colleague warning that “things would get messy” for us if we didn’t take a regular taxi. He then ran towards a random parked car on the street and warned us he would ‘kick the shit out this guy if it turns out to be an Uber’.”
There have been multiple reports after the initial blog post of many ethereum startups/companies have canceled their venue space at Devcon3, due to security concerns. The most notable dropout is ConsenSys, a New York-based decentralized software service that operates on the Ethereum blockchain.
On a Reddit post the moderator of ConsenSys stated:
“ConsenSys people were very excited to go to DevCon3. So excited that we planned to take the whole company to Tulum right after for our annual company-wide offsite. We became aware via travel warnings that the Caribbean coast — traditionally very safe — had become twice as dangerous over the last year. We hired a security company composed of Navy Seals and after weeks of research and discussion, it was decided that this was too high profile an event in a slightly dangerous locale. The Navy Seals were relieved as protecting a large crew like that would have been difficult in that context (corrupt police, etc.). I would be happy to take a large group to Cancun/Tulum (I spent a chunk of time in Tulum — it is wonderful) on another date, but during an event that is globally advertised to have lots of millionaires present who could easily give up instant access to large instantly disposable wealth, gave us pause. When the security firm let us know that the cartels had people on payroll at each hotel and knew exactly what was going on in the region, our company-wide discussion yielded an agreement that we should not make it a corporate sponsored event. Many ConsenSys people will be there of their own accord and they are free to use educational stipends from the company to defray costs if they choose to.”
“We expect and hope that everything will go well and smoothly and look forward to watching the videos.”
Despite the unfortunate events that have occurred with some of the attendees, the kickoff to the event is still in place on November 1st. Devcon3 is a four-day event and is anticipated to be a huge success on the conceptual side of things.
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